Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Library Love

I am a lover of libraries. I am a library enthusiast. I am, you might say, a library aficionado.

When I love something as much as I love libraries, I tend to sing it to the world. And sing to the world I did.

Me and my big mouth.

The story: The Public Library of New London got a new Executive Director about 6 months ago. I'm friendly with her sons, who are local, so I was eager to meet her. She comes into the Tavern for potato salad and ginger ale and to read the papers, and we spoke occasionally. Occasionally . . . until one fateful evening at the Tavern when I was feeling really friendly, overly friendly, just super friendly, and I started gushing about my love for libraries, and my love for the New London Library.

I told her that during our years on the road the public library was a vital part of our daily lives. Every town has a library, and every library has internet computers, thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Smaller towns are even better than big towns, usually, because there are plenty of computers and not too many people. We'd get online, we'd use the bathrooms (not necessarily in that order), we'd talk to the librarians and ask about good places in town to eat or to see, I'd photocopy the NYTimes crossword puzzle, Bill would look at the book sale rack, and we'd be on our merry way.

Mural painted on the outside of the Denver Public Library

Many times during our years on the road we'd stay in one place for several months, volunteering at the local state park for 2 or 3 days a week in exchange for free camping, water and electricity. In those towns (like Fort Davis and Alpine and Marfa, Texas, and Big Pine Key and Keystone Heights and Micanopy, Florida) we got to know the libraries -- and the librarians -- really well. The librarians would recognize us even when they hadn't seen us for a couple of years.

I'm also intimately familiar with the Asheville, NC library (as well as the adorable Ocracoke library out in North Carolina's Outer Banks), the Evanston, IL library, the San Diego County library system (with a killer one in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, across the street from San Elijo State Park), and my beloved Columbus NM library and, of course, the Nogales, AZ library, where I posted my very first blog post (and my second, and my third.....)

We stopped in the Gila Bend, Arizona public library one spring day in 2008 and I wired a whole lot of cash to some guy in New London, CT. On the way out of the building I stopped to tell the librarian I'd never forget that library, because we bought our house from there.

Statue outside of Hill City, Kansas Public Library

So I told New London's new Executive Director all of that, and more, because not only am I an avid enthusiastic library lover, I'm a champion talker. She asked me if I would come to her office so she could interview me for the library online newsletter. "Of course!" I exclaimed enthusiastically. "I'd be happy to!"

We had a lovely chat, I showed off my library card collection . . .

A pretty awesome library card collection, you gotta admit

. . . I oohed and aahed at her gorgeous office in the old part of the library, and that was that.


The next day she came into the Tavern and asked if I'd consider speaking at the New London budget hearing on Monday night at the NLHS Auditorium. In front of people. At a public meeting. "Um, sure [gulp]. Of course [gulp]. I'd be, um, glad to [gulp]."

It wasn't that bad, not really. The worst part was the anticipation of it. All weekend. It hung over my head like a lead-filled black cloud. I was nervous, though -- okay, okay, terrified -- and, worse, sober. When I first started speaking I had trouble with the microphone (because when do I ever speak into a microphone?) and I know my voice sounded nervous. But luckily I spoke after an awful, long-winded, belly-aching blowhard did, so my Library Song of Praise was like a breath of fresh air for those councilpeople. Or so I tell myself. And the audience clapped! They clapped! I guess they clap if you're praising, not complaining.

Anyway, it's over. And I did finally get a glass of wine. And I'm glad I did my civic duty, even if it did wreck my weekend.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm headed to the New London Library.


Anonymous said...

You are awesome! Way to go, Ellie. Well done, well written, and well spoken. Oh, and I also love the accompaning photos. xo Kathleen

Anonymous said...

Can someone buy me a "y"? This librarian can't spell. kod

Hsin-Yi said...

That's awesome Ellie! Wish I could have heard you speak, but I know you wow'ed them.

And libraries ROCK! There's nothing as soothing to me as sitting in a quiet corner of a library, thumbing through books.

Rita.the.bookworm said...

I was planning on saying, "That is awesome!" But I see it's been done before me, so I'll just say thank you for doing that.

I grew up in libraries, my mother being the school librarian and all. We need to keep declaring the good they do, or they'll be lost.

loves my library in PA said...

I am SO proud of you, Ellie!
I also love the library, and have many fond childhood memories of going to the library with my mom. The Baltimore Co. one that was a Frank Lloyd Wright design nestled in the woods and full of all the Dr. Suess and Beverly Cleary books my little heart desired.
Plus...I'm thrilled that you went to a public meeting and PRAISED something. As a member of our local school board who has to sit through HOURS of meetings, I just love it when someone is happy with something and comes to tell us.
So..cheers to you...toast yourself from me :)

MB said...

Really, Ellie? You had a public speaking engagement Monday night and said nary a word about it on Sunday? Really? I'm so glad it went well! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Great post Ellie...I changed careers five years ago and am now a proud school (and part-time public) librarian, and it's the best job in the world!! I have a picture of that my mother tookd of me with my first library card from the good old Norwalk Public Library, I guess it was prophetic of my later career choice!! ... Happy Reading! Eileen

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Second lovely librarian commenter, second typo. Personally, I'd have it no other way (hee hee). Love that Norwalk Public Library, Eileen -- my very first one . . .

And MB, I tried to bring it up a few times, but I was just too nervous to push it. Which seems really really silly in retrospect. Plus, then I would have given away my blog post!


Mom C said...

I wrote a comment earlier, but must not have published it. I too can't believe your public speech was on your mind and you never told us! Good for you library girl - I'll bet the peeps loved you.... mom

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Yes, never give away the blog post! lol.

You rock, Ellie. I bet you were the very most enthusiastic speaker of the day! Even sober :-)

I have a library date with Merrell on Wed, and can hardly wait!

Great post.


Anonymous said...

What a great story. I'll bet you single-handedly got tons of funding for that library for the upcoming year. I have along-standing love affair with libraries,too, and I love how they manage to always keep up with the needs of patrons - the free internet, DVD loaners, free courses, even free passes to local museums and galleries that you can check out. Whenever I move to a new town, one of the first things I do is get a new library card.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I love this! It cracks me up how you keep your stories secret until they are revealed on the blog. Public speaking is good for the psyche, especially when it's for such a noble cause! What did you say? And where's the online article?

Remember that time you borrowed some Baja guidebooks with my card and then took them to mexico for a week but didn't come back for a couple of months? I think you eventually mailed the books back to me, lol.

But I have to say: "She comes into the Tavern for potato salad and ginger ale" Could you work on this? Ew.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Hey, she's a vegetarian and doesn't drink, what can I say? I love that despite that, she still comes into the Tavern. And, ahem, bought me and Bill both a post-budget-hearing beer last night.

Jacquie, the online article was mostly about the state of the seats in the NLHS auditorium, which had everyone up in arms. There is one sentence about the library getting $7000 added to its budget -- which is why I was there thanking the city council -- but, sadly, I'm not mentioned or quoted or photographed:


And Jacquie, I hope I paid your library fine. I remember it cost about $25 to mail those books back. But I got forever turned on to the best Latin American Spanish dictionary ever, so it was worth it:

(actually mine's the second edition with a much better cover)

I love all this library talk. I've been thinking about my childhood at Norwalk Public Library all the day.


Anonymous said...

Yay! for libraries. Yay! for library aficionadas. Yay! for glasses of wine to soothe the postspeech nerves.

Logical Libby said...

The smell of a library is what gets me. I love it.

I wish I had heard your speech!

Captain Dumbass said...

Good for you, Ellie!

Paul Cronin said...

Excellent Ellie, excellent. Libraries rock and everyone knows it! I still have my library cards from the Cottesloe Library in Western Australia and my Kings Beach card from Lake Tahoe.

Boogie on Library Woman!